Brexit watch

It’s European election time.

Even when the UK was a fully-fledged and at least a semi- willing member of the EU, elections to the European Parliament always took second – or even third – place to domestic polls in the eyes of the British public.

Though we’re on the verge of leaving the EU (or at least we should be if the 2016 referendum result is to be properly upheld), we still have to go through the motions of holding the next set of Euro-elections.

Of course, as we all know, they were never supposed to happen. If Theresa May had followed through on her promise to extract the UK from the EU by 29 March, this month’s EU elections wouldn’t be taking place.

But as Basil Fawlty might have said, now we’re stuck with them.

You’ll no doubt have your views about the topic. In the meantime, I’ve been reviewing our postbag from previous editions of Brexit Watch.

Here’s what you’ve had to say:

We’ve been talking about relative rates of productivity between the UK and the rest of the world.

“I would like somebody in UK Uncensored to explain how ‘productivity’ is measured for the purposes of these comparisons”, says ‘S’. “It seems to me that nobody ever challenges the accepted statistics or methodology. How can we have a meaningful debate until we know what we are comparing?”

Err, that’s a very good point.

The official measure of productivity compares the amount of goods and services produced with the inputs used to do so. Labour productivity contrasts the output of goods and services with the hours consumed in producing them.

Like most statements emanating from economists, this could mean almost anything.

I’m not an economist, and nor are most of our readers, so let’s try to think about the subject in ‘real world’ terms.

I often source financial information from the excellent Trading Economics website (https://tradingeconomics.com) which provides free details on a whole host of economic and market data.

Trading Economics tracks the official barometer of UK productivity (measured by output per hour as mentioned above) back to 1971. From a level then of around 43 then, UK productivity rose to 100 by 2008 (please note that the absolute numbers themselves aren’t important, it’s the relative move that counts).

Yet over the last decade or so, UK productivity has largely – on the government’s numbers – moved sideways, though there’s been a slight pick-up over the last five years from 99-ish to almost 102.

Most people will probably say that I’m delusional, but I don’t accept the official figures. I believe that technological advances since 2008 mean that most of us are far more productive that we used to be.

Back to your emails on this…

“I wanted to add to your comments about slow growth in the UK since 2008”, says ‘P’.  “Perhaps the problem has been excessive government intervention (in the UK and elsewhere) and we would see better growth if government was less involved? Is it a coincidence that the UK economy is doing OK now (compared to its peers) at the same time as Parliament argues amongst itself about Brexit choices and does little else?”

“I’m a strong believer in the maxim of Henry David Thoreau – “government is best which governs least” – if we can allow the economy to work naturally we should all benefit”.

Couldn’t agree more, ‘P’.

Reminds me of the days – 589 of them, in fact – when Belgium was without a ‘proper’ government back in 2010-11. The ‘experts’ said the country would fall apart.

As usual, they were wrong. Belgium survived the ‘crisis’ remarkably well. It’s still going strong today. My moral: less government is good, no government is best.

Granted, that’s a very personal view. But the overwhelming line of thinking amongst our readers is that Britain should proceed with leaving the EU without delay.

“What qualifies you to make statements like we are going to go through four years of hardship after Brexit?” asks ‘S’. “We will be fine and prosper after Brexit because the EU needs us more than we need it. It will come running with its begging bowl and you scaremongers will have egg on your faces.”

Here at UK Uncensored I’d like to think that we’re not scaremongering at all, but reflecting the prevailing view of our readers.

“You may not have found a good reason to be a leaver, so here is the only one that really matters”, says ‘R’. “We the electorate democratically voted by a sizeable majority to instruct Parliament to get us out. MPs were not asked to give their own endless opinions why they thought we were wrong, so just get us out without negotiation with an EU determined to frustrate our instructions.”

Indeed, some of you have, shall we say, quite extreme opinions on what will happen if the UK were to stay in the EU.

“If we remain in the corrupt German-run club”, says DK, “our counties will be turned into nine regions, each with its own government that will be responsible directly to Brussels and not Westminster. We’ll have a German-run army and police, our legal system will be virtually non-existent, our country’s sovereignty will be taken from us and we’ll be subjected to whatever the self-elected hypocrites in Brussels decide.”

Now at this point I’d like to include some more balancing quotes from Remainers. But there aren’t any more in our inbox. So I’m assuming that either the Remain camp has given up writing to us, or is so convinced that the UK will never leave the EU that it doesn’t need to do so.

In the meantime, we’ll see how those European elections play out. We’d love to see your comments about them on ukuncensored@agora.co.uk.

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